There is a line in Maitland's MIND BODY ZEN that says, "we die and are resurrected thousands of times a day." I've only had time to read about eight pages of that book so far, but that's the line that sticks.
A long time ago I dreamed a hospice site where I was trying to calm and "send to rest" different avatars of my own ego. Young people, old people, men, women.
I'm in a phase where I don't really give a damn about asana anymore; I'm not practicing much because I'm doing the dharma, which for me means the schoolwork, the committee meetings, sending out the panel offer to that conference, spending time with the kid and the family. Even when I'm teaching the yoga on Sundays (and that's my most traditional room), my advice to students is about breathing, energy summoning, energy conservation, staying friendly with yourself, keeping the trance intense.
The Intro to Ashtanga workshop I did a week ago Friday had eighteen people in it (awesome!) and most of them were people I'd not seen before and haven't seen since, so I'm not certain what they took away. I took a question on the "eight limbs" (because there's 'ashtanga yoga' and 'ashtanga vinyasa yoga', right?) and I even suprised myself in the way that I was able to paraphrase the eight. In practice, I told students they would have to "make choices" (example: step up on breath pace in Surya B, or step up "high enough" and take an extra breath?) and that this can become, over time, an energetic and ego decision, ways to contain yourself, ways to expand yourself (nipping that one from Owl, who's been saying marvelous things of late, in two different locations).
Then the evening after that workshop, I got sick with something that involved barfing. It's not hard for me to barf when I need to, but I know people who agonize about it for an hour. For me, it's just "aha, this is gonna happen," and then it does. And then it's over and it feels good. Pretty simple, but of course, entirely abject. Something inside you becomes something outside you, and you want it even further away than it is. My abs, of course, are quite strong from all the asana and the history of wall-climbing, so barfing HURTS, because the abs maximally contract to make the action happen. It's like laughing hard for a half hour, but all contracted into about two minutes.
I went climbing for the first time in about 18 months up on the northwest side of the city, in a location that has been purchased by my beloved climbing gym in Bloomington. They also bought the whole School of Gymnastics space next door and aim, by summertime, to make it into a space that is capable of holding national competitions. The blueprints look awesome. Anyway. I still like climbing, but there was a fantastic nostalgia in hitting boulder problems again. The old days AS old days, as history, not recoverable. A love for them, mixed with an acceptance of their age. Not that I can not climb anymore or have lost something, but climbing now is not climbing then. Climbing then is history; the old knuckle swellings, the old injuries, the old ego fighting to transcend itself through achievement and failing. I pulled hard on a 5.11 route (unroped, so only about the bottom 10 feet of it) and felt the knuckles swell again into old pain, and so I backed off, stuck to simple bouldering (v0, v1, v2). In a way I said good bye by saying hello. I'll be back.
I've had outrageous amounts of work with the four classes, the search committee, and the interpersonal developments with J (all of which have been conversation). The conversation I mentioned in the prior post, I now remember as one question, about being a parent and the ego. Over a year ago, I said I couldn't "think" about parenting, couldn't get it to sort of "meet my strength." This conversation got me finessing that, rephrasing it. Parenting is not something I think about, not something I conceptualize, I can't make it part of my "ego possession," which I do about everything else, by conceptualizing my teaching philosophy, and my sexual practices and my energy management and everything else I do. Now, by this I don't mean "making it all bloodlessly intellectual," I mean, "trying to combine the tactile sensuality with high intellectuality so as to alchemize the binary." One could say, less accurately, why I teach, than that one statement. I sort of inhabit the mind-body problem (or if you like, mind-spirit/body-animal) problem so as to alchemize it from within, by both theatricality, physicality and French theory, trying to feel thinking and think feeling. BOOM!
In any case, what I was thinking about with parenting is that I can't "own" it, can't seem to make it part of "me" (ego as "me"). I can't put it into my alchemy mind-body project and make it play.
This is because it is too simple, too direct, and too obvious.
And MIND BODY ZEN took me back there instantly. Change a diaper, play with your kid, become a train when he wants to imagine you all chuffing around the house, do this thing, do that thing. Interact with and redirect a tantrum.
It SOUNDS like this should become all conceptualized metaphors about handling my own emotional stuff, and chewy wisdom, and of course parenting is also very abject, with all the barf and poop that you have to handle, but this conceptualizing NEVER HAPPENS.
This is KEY.
I understand myself, a lot of the time, as the mind-body-alchemy guy. It's in my abject art course (sensory through evil, cruelty as compassion), it's in my yoga teaching (is this adjustment sexual at all? well it COULD be understood that way, energy can be named, directed, made into shapes, but let's make the adjustment more about HEALTH, for example, and ta-da, the energy now goes THAT WAY, and now let's make the adjustment more about energy, and prana channels, and ta-da, the energy takes THAT CONFIGURATION), and it's in almost all conversation that I have with anyone who does physical movement or academics or both.
BUT parenting never goes there, seems never to PLAY THAT GAME. It's too simple, again, too direct. "Seventh series, highest practice!" I almost want to say "it's Zen, man!" but I don't know Zen well enough to say that, and so I'd offically like to call out KAREN here, to comment on this.
I operate as a parent, without all my conceptualizations, they're useless in parenting. It isn't meta-, isn't clever, doesn't appreciate my humor, doesn't need my darkness/lightness/alchemy mind-body magic. And so while it can make me suffer quite a bit (tantrums are PAIN), it's all very simple and it isn't anything beyond what it is.
In this way, the pain of parenting is sort of a "truer" pain. It doesn't MEAN anything other than what it is, either.
I should be grading instead of writing this, but there was this creative drive, and I needed to get the expression out. Creativity not as "making a thing" or working from inspiration, but as expression itself. I don't "receive inspiration" from without, I feel a need from within, actually quite like needing to barf or to get any other bodily product out. It is, in the literal sense, PRODUCTION.
I'm so wound up still with work tension and frustration with J and the fact that I can't go to the Confluence (because I can't, Abject Art calls, and I'm simply not going to cancel it for the weekend, I knew this in January) and the idea that I have no idea who "should" teach me (who is suited to an ashtangi who's basically indifferent to asana now?), that every practice is about breathing and energy, and release and challenge. Sadness or anger or quiet moments, it has barely anything to do with shape, the inner experience is so colorful, and mostly not pleasant, but whatever, I didn't get into this because it felt good, I got into this because I wanted answers, wanted some knife-edge clarity. I got some.
The great sadness of not being, you know, Aragorn.
But under the mythological hopes (of being Aragorn, of being a 5.11 climber, of being a Second Series practitioner, see all the layers, all the metaphors, one thing with a thousand faces?), there's this simple reality. I got some of it in climbing, too. The counter guys are young and I'm old, and they didn't recognize me AT ALL, none of my "five year setter legend" came with me, I am INVISIBLE. I feel them register my apparent age. Age is all about what other people think. My climbing skill set, which is still there, means WHAT now? Does it mean anything beyond itself?
And even in teaching, when I'm all theatricality (and much more loudly with art students than yoga students, but it does carry over), this performance is TO LIBERATE the people I'm teaching. Become physical, get in your body! Break up your conceptualizations! Combine a tone that doesn't fit, with a content: example, be snarky about how graduate education works, with the Capstone students. Yes, bite the hand that feeds you! But know when you can get away with it. Liberate the inner restraint and make it all external performance; don't become your job, your role, keep it juicy, keep it alive.
I fell for roles-outside-roles, back in the day. Went from frustrated husband guy to rad rock climbing guy, rad open relationship guy, and then found that reality even broke THOSE roles to pieces. Being alive doesn't mean just being physically radical, bending into wacko shapes and being able to hold your breath for three minutes and suspend yourself in a corner on two pieces of plastic twenty-five feet up. Being ALIVE and JUICY also means asking the crying, floppy child on the floor if he's a train.
But see how that isn't sexual, isn't bending, isn't RAD? This, sadly and joyously, is NONETHELESS being alive, aliveness itself.
Do still climb walls.
Do still want that time with J to be like that.
Do still bend, put that foot behind your head or whatever.
Those just Aren't You, is all.
This feels too simple, like I didn't dig deep enough, like I didn't get into transformation, psychedelia, didn't "take you on a trip." But in a way, this is the trip. Right now. "But nothing's happening." Yes.